Patagonia

Patagonia

Did you know that Chile is the country with the Americas’ largest number of active volcanoes? This is the reason why geological tourism and fascination with Chile’s volcanoes is an increasingly popular and widespread phenomenon in our country.

Among the thousands of Chilean volcanoes, there are some that are an essential part of our history, whether due to their eruptions, geological heritage, or connotation for our indigenous culture. These volcanoes, in addition to being the most visited in Chile, are perfect for photography fans “Without a doubt, Chile’s most symbolic volcano is the Villarrica, one of the seven volcanoes in the world that has active lava flow that can be seen from its crater.

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Come and discover with us the natural, cultural, and adventure wonders that Lake & Volcanoes district and Patagonia it has for you.

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Far from the cosmopolitan and vibrant city of Santiago, a very special grape grows. Almost killed by insects, and then forgotten, the Carménère was reborn more than 10.000 km away from its homeland and today is Chile’s most renowned wine around the world… But how did that happen?

In the 19th century, the phylloxera epidemic almost wiped all of France’s raisin plants, forcing French winemakers to start over with their plantations of Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Carménère. Their efforts worked and almost all of the strains were brought back to life, but the Carménère couldn’t adapt to the cold spring and early autumn rains of Bordeaux and got extinct.

More than a hundred years passed and the Carménère was reborn in central Chile. How? A decade before the plague that affected France started, a few strains of Carménère joined the European winemakers that migrate to Chile around 1850. However, this survivor wine strain was sown next to Merlot and Cabernet plants and for years Carménère was marketed as these two varieties.

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Come and discover with us the natural, cultural, and adventure wonders that Central Chile and Wine valleys it has for you.

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Take advantage of our experience and do not miss this 2021-2022 season.

Once again, the world of astronomy will set its eyes on Chile: we will be the destination to observe another solar eclipse this 2020. This year, La Araucanía will be one of the best places to witness it, with 100% darkness.

December 14 at 1:00 p.m. will be the most anticipated day for fans of astronomy. Pucón and Villarrica will be the epicenter of a solar eclipse, where the visibility will be 100%, as happened last year in a sector of the Coquimbo and Atacama Region.

We are going to the south of Chile! This year the Solar Eclipse 2020 is coming to us in one of the most tourist places in our country: The Araucanía Region.
The towns that will be within the privileged area of 100% darkness are: Puerto Saavedra, Isla Mocha, Carahue, Freire, Nueva Imperial, Loncoche, Freira, Villarrica, Pucón and Lican Ray.
Pucón is the capital of Adventure Tourism! Since in its surroundings, you can do rafting, canopy, kayaking, zip-lining, ascending the volcano, and water sports on Lake Villarrica.

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Come and discover with us the Total Solar Eclipse and nature and cultural wonders that Lake District and Patagonia it has for you.

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Take advantage of our experience and do not miss this 2020-2021 season.

For those who are looking for amazing landscapes, cultural diversity, delicious food, excellent wine, and a great human experience with warm-hearted people, Chile is a must-see destination. Our country has a unique mixture of landscapes and different kinds of weather which delivers an incredible display of natural wonders, such as the Atacama desert, Lake District, Patagonia and Easter Island “Rapa Nui”.

On December 14, 2020, a total solar eclipse will cut across Chile’s Lake District at Northern Patagonia, where anyone within the 56-mile-wide path of totality can witness the moon pass fully between the sun and Earth.

The phenomenon occurs when the new moon comes between the sun and Earth and casts its umbra – the darkest part of its shadow – on Earth. A total solar eclipse is almost as dark as night. While the majority of this year’s total solar eclipse will take place over the Pacific Ocean, it will pass over South America – Chile and Argentina – in the late afternoon, meaning Chile’s Lake District is one of the best – and only – places in the world for viewing. Come and enjoy the unique natural event…Once in a Lifetime!

 

Widely known for its clear skies, Chile has become a global power in astronomy. With different observatories located throughout the territory, especially in the north of the country, Chile is now a key participant in many scientific advances and discoveries of the last couple of years.
But the mysteries of the cosmos are not exclusive to astronomers and physicists, since different organizations have started to open its doors to the public with the purpose of allowing them to discover more about our universe.

Paranal astronomy observatory chile.In the north of Chile, in the Atacama and Antofagasta region, different observatories have been installed, making the most of the amazing skies of the Atacama Desert. The most iconic are the Paranal and ALMA, which have the most advanced systems in the world. It is possible to visit the Paranal Observatory each Saturday and the ALMA during Saturdays and Sunday early in the morning. For both places it is necessary to book in advanced.

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Come and discover with us the natural, cultural, and adventure wonders that Atacama Desert and Altiplano it has for you.

Contact us and get to know Chile with us.

Take advantage of our experience and do not miss this 2020-2021 season.

Caleta Tortel, one of the places that I most wanted to know in the whole area due to its peculiar shape and its famous catwalks. And it is undoubtedly the town that most attracts the attention of any traveler who visits these latitudes.

It is located about 1130 kilometers south of Puerto Montt, 126 kilometers from Cochrane and 152 kilometers from Villa O’Higgins. Although the Carretera Austral directly connects Cochrane with Villa O’Higgins, half way there is a branch of about 23 kilometers that lead to Caleta Tortel. This branch was built in 2004 and, until then, the only way to get there was by boat.

Tortel is a small group of houses that extend along the shore of the fjord. Its main characteristic is that it does not have streets and therefore vehicles do not circulate through it. When you get to the entrance of the town you have to leave any vehicle parked and forget about it until you decide to take the road back.

Meanwhile, the time we are in Caleta Tortel will be spent walking on cypress wooden footbridges that connect the dozens of colored houses that make it up. The contrast of the houses with the lush and green vegetation that surrounds them is spectacular.

Many of the houses are built on stilts over the water and others on the mountainside in an almost jungle setting. The downside of this is if you go with a suitcase of wheels, as was my case, because the wheels are continually hooked on the boards and the many ups and downs of stairs are terrible if you’re loaded.

It is not a town with a lot of life. Only about 500 inhabitants live permanently and outside the high season there are hardly any people on the street. Nor are they specially prepared for tourism. We must remember that until the road opened almost no tourist ventured to get there.

Since then, little by little they have been opening up to the world of tourism and there are several hotels and restaurants that work in the town, as well as small companies that organize tours to the places of interest in the surroundings. But out of season it is very likely that you will arrive and not find an open restaurant or with provisions to serve meals.

In a gesture to improve the infrastructures to attract more tourists, in 2012 nearly 1000 meters of footbridges were improved and several covered viewpoints were built within the town itself.

In Caleta Tortel it almost always rains, and it’s no exaggeration. They told me that during the year more than 300 days rain falls and it is really difficult to find a clear day. Nothing else to see the pictures to realize that the day was totally gray, and during the morning I spent there before leaving for Villa O’Higgins I was almost all the time walking in a soft rain but without rest.

Anyway, the gray days are always quite interesting because the clouds become a gigantic light box that although dim. Everything lights up evenly and avoids the sometimes annoying shadows in some photos.

Another curiosity of Tortel is that water changes color depending on weather conditions and light. You can see some pictures with the water totally green and in others the same water has a milky hue, pulling to gray. Really curious.

WHAT TO SEE AND DO IN CALETA TORTEL?

When I traveled so long along the Carretera Austral for two weeks, during which time I wanted to see too many things, I could not spend 24 hours visiting the town. I would have liked to be able to visit some of the fantastic places that Caleta Tortel can reach from here, but I would have had to sacrifice other, less interesting things along the way.

These are some of the places that I missed, some of them really impressive:

Jorge Montt Glacier
The Jorge Montt Glacier is one of the main glaciers that form the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. To get there you have to sail for three or four hours in a route of great charm between fjords, where you can see a lot of mammals and seabirds and in the last section is navigated between icebergs as a result of the constant retreat of the mass of ice, which disappears at an alarming level of one kilometer per year.

A pity not having been able to visit it, at the rate that it may be on my next trip to Patagonia, it is no longer possible to do so.

Steffen Glacier
If the previous one was the entrance to the Southern Ice Field, the Steffen Glacier is from the Northern Patagonian Ice Field. One of the most inaccessible glaciers in all of Patagonia because to reach it you have to sail for about four or five hours, first through the mouth of the Baker and then through Steffen Glacier Bay. Once in the bay, it is also navigated along with hundreds of large blocks of ice detached from the glacier, to finally reach the Huemules River and the lush forests that surround the glacier.

This tour is expensive and difficult to do. I once read that it was possible to spend the night inside the bay, in the house of descendants of the first settlers of the region who still live there. Ideal to know first hand the history of the whole region.

Island of the dead
It is one of the most mysterious places in the south of Chile. The Island of the Dead, formed at the mouth of the Baker River, has a very dark past in which, according to reports, more than a hundred workers died more than a century ago. Although it has not been possible to prove anything of all this, apparently these workers were taken to the zone with intention to open a way that united what is now Tortel with Argentina. But for unknown reasons they began to get sick and die, being buried on the island.

It is said that they were poisoned by the company to not pay their salary. Also that was accidentally because of food in poor condition. In any case, a rather grim story for a place that is now being visited by tourists in order to see a cemetery in which there are only 33 of the 120 crosses that were counted in the middle of the 20th century.

To get there you have to sail about 15 minutes from Caleta Tortel and it is not economical if you do not join a group. In low season it is not easy to travel there.

Viewpoints of the Cerro de Tortel
What I did during my stay in Tortel, as well as going up and down hundreds of wooden steps and going along footbridges, was to walk along a path that climbs up to some viewpoints at the top of the hill where most of the houses in the town are located.

From the parking roundabout at the entrance to the town, where the tourist information point is, take a walkway that leads to the last houses in the opposite direction of the fjord. From there you take a small path that goes up on wooden boards to avoid multiple flooded areas.

Once up, you can see the mouth of the Baker River, the Island of the Dead and the Mitchell Fjord. Also mountains and waterfalls in the distance. Landscapes of great beauty, and very green.

There is no doubt that Caleta Tortel is a special place that serves as the port of entry to the Northern Patagonian Ice Field and the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, two large masses of ice that form the third largest expanse of ice on the planet after the Antarctica and Greenland, and to which belong well-known glaciers such as Perito Moreno, Exploradores, Calluqueo, Gray, San Rafael, O’Higgins, and of course the aforementioned Jorge Montt and Steffen.

 

The Route of the Patagonian Parks includes 17 national parks. It covers an area of 2,800 kilometers (1739 mi), 60 village communities and 11.5 million hectares of protected land inhabited by 140 bird species and 46 mammal species.

The 17 parks are located in the southern most region of Chile, between Puerto Montt and Cape Horn, which features the Carretera Austral (The Southern Way), the Patagonian Canals and the Route often referred to as ‘Fin del Mundo’, the End of the World.

What follows is a description of the most important aspects of this new destination in Chile that has the potential of becoming the most spectacular scenic route in the world.

Tompkins’ Legacy

Tompkins visualized the Route of the Patagonian Parks, 17 protected ecosystems with land owned by his foundation, adjacent to existing parks and that Tompkins turned into an opportunity for their development through tourism.

Douglas Tompkins was a businessman and ecologist from Ohio, United States, who was dedicated to conservation and environmental activism. He was the Founder of an important brand of outdoor equipment and clothing. Through the years, Tompkins took several trips to Chile and finally decided to move to Patagonia. He was a foreigner interested in promoting local culture who loved the rural lifestyle and acquired large extensions of land in the Patagonia.

However, being an ecologist, he believed that these large extensions of land should not be in private hands. His dream was to develop an infrastructure and eventually donate the project to the Chilean state to be maintained as protected national parks.

Today the Route of the Patagonian Parks is a new destination on the doorstep of the end of the world, with a mix of diverse ecosystems, enchanting landscapes, native and endemic flora and fauna, history and culture. It’s a new route that seeks to balance the protection of the environment with the economic development of its 60 communities through sustainable tourism.

Introducing the 17 Parks of the Patagonia:

Alerce Andino National Park

This ecosystem is located south of Lake Chapo, categorized as a Biosphere Reserve in the Temperate Rain Forests of the Southern Andes Mountains.

Hornopirén National Park

Hornopirén Park, “snow oven” in the native Mapudungún language, is part of the World Biosphere Reserve of Valdivian Temperate Rainforest in Chile´s Southern Andes Mountains, and consists of nearly 9,000 hectares of alerce forests.

Douglas Tompkins Pumalín National Park

Ancestral lands of the Chono tribe, Pumalín National Park is located south of Puerto Montt. It has a temperate rain forest climate and is open year round.

Corcovado National Park

Corcovado is national park inhabited by locals and created thanks to a donation of more than 84,000 hectares by Tompkins’ Conservation Fund. It possesses large extensions of land yet to be explored.

Melimoyu National Park

This national park is not accessible by land, but can be reached by boat from different places and offers the opportunity to sight blue whales along the way that live in abundance along the coasts of Melimoyu.

Queulat National Park

Queulat National Park is located 165 kilometers from Coyhaique and is open year round. Visitors are attracted by its ever green forests, Patagonian Andes, fjords, rivers, and its famous Queulat Hanging Glacier that can be seen from the Carretera Austral.

Isla Magdalena National Park

Isla Magdalena is one of the largest islands south of Chiloé and is only accessible by boat. It’s the perfect refuge for diverse marine species such as penguins and sea lions.

Laguna San Rafael National Park

The landscape of San Rafael includes fjords, canals, islands and glaciers. It’s the principal port of entry to the Northern Snow Field and the second largest national park in Chile. It’s operational all year.

Cerro Castillo National Park

Cerro Castillo has some of the most outstanding trekking trails in Chile. Here it’s possible to catch a glimpse of the elusive huemul, a species of South Andean deer, as they attempt to hide themselves in the Lenga forests. This park is not to be missed as one travels along the Roads of southern Chile. Open year round.

Patagonia National Park

Open year round, Patagonia National Park houses one of the highest levels of biodiversity in the Aysen region. Here the Patagonian steepe can be observed in all its splendor, especially in the fall when the trees turn bright red contrasting with the intense blue of lakes like Cochrane and Jeinimeni.

Bernardo O´Higgins National Park

Bernardo O’Higgins National Park is the largest in Chile and one of the largest in the world. The 49 glaciers in the Southern Ice Field is the third largest continental ice mass on the planet. Open from October through April.

Kawésqar National Park

Kawésqar is the second largest park in Chile and one of the largest in the world. Its territory is a virgin ecosystem that includes the mountain range, glaciers, wet lands, fjords and a large part of the archipelagos of the Provinces of Magallanes and Última Esperanza. Open from October through April.

Torres del Paine National Park

This is one of the most visited parks in Chile. It’s very attractive for those who enjoy trekking and climbing. The “O” and “W” circuits offer landscapes made up of glaciers, forests and grasslands.

Pali-Aike National Park

This is the ancestral land of the Tehuelche tribe. The park is located 196 kilometers from Punta Arenas. It has outstanding rock formations, caves, volcanic cones and craters. It’s a wondrous free range for guanacos, foxes and ñandú birds (rheas).

Alberto de Agostini National Park

This is the third largest park in Chile and is located 800 nautical miles south of Punta Arenas in the area of Navarino. It was declared a Biosphere Reserve by Unesco since it is considered to be one of the most pristine regions of the world. Open year round.

Yendegaia National Park

This land was once home to the Selknam and Yámana tribes and now this Tierra del Fuego Park is a Biosphere Reserve. It has not been intervened with installations of any kind, but one can walk the trails of the private Karukinka park next to Yendegaia, or cross the Strait of Magellan from Tres Puentes to Porvenir or by Punta Delgada to Cerro Sombrero.

Cabo de Hornos National Park

This is the only place in the world where the waters of the Pacific and Atlantic meet. Cabo de Hornos (Cape Horn) is a famous geographic place with hundreds of stories of brave sailors who challenged its waters and wild currents. It was declared a Biosphere Reserve by Unesco and has a wild area that includes land and marine ecosystems. Open from October through April.

Without a doubt, Tompkins´ dream has come true. The Route of Patagonian Parks is a new travel destination that will conquer the hearts of world travellers with its pristine landscapes, fauna, glaciers and grass lands. It offers an opportunity for development and of pride for the communities of southern Chile, their landscapes, culture and history.

Experience local life by visiting several markets; take time for coffee and conversation with the locals. Enjoy a delicious meal and maybe a boat ride to Tenglo Island, and stop by the crafts market.

Professional Trekking Guide, with Wilderness First Response Accreditation, all the excursions and transfers mentioned in the program, equipment for the excursions, all accommodations in the program, (check with us for other options), mobile phone/VHF radio, mineral water per person, snack & box-lunch per person (according to your program) and private/shared transportation fully equipped according to your program.